Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review: The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina MonologuesThe Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a feminist for over 25 years, it's surprising that I arrived so late to The Vagina Monologues. I had heard about the play for years, but have never seen it. Recently at a women's music camp, one woman performed one of the sketches and I found it hilarious, shocking, and illuminating.

I scanned through the Goodreads reviews and found it interesting to note how many people strongly disliked this book. They are judging it as literature, but it's not literature. It's performance art; it's a play. You can't judge it like you would a novel or a nonfiction book. Although I found the book fascinating, I know I need to see it performed.

This is a ground-breaking piece of work. Eve Ensler is brave, as are all the women out there who perform this play...and the women (and men!) who attend. I couldn't help but remember Storm Large's wonderful one-woman play, "Crazy Enough," and how she had everyone in the audience (men too!) singing along with her: "My vagina is eight miles wide..."

One of my favorite parts was in the introduction, when Gloria Steinem wrote about the design of traditional churches and cathedrals imitating the female body...and her desire to reclaim these patriarchal religious structures. "There is an outer and inner entrance, labia major and labia minora; a central vaginal aisle toward the altar; two curved ovarian structures on either side; and then in the sacred center, the altar or womb, where the miracle takes place--where males give birth." I will never look at a cathedral the same way again!

The Vagina Monologues have been a rallying cry for women of all ages everywhere. Just let it be. Get worked up. Sit back and enjoy. Or just be quiet. Let them reclaim a part of themselves that has been hidden away and shamed.

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  1. I appreciate what this play is trying to do, but I think it bites off more than it can chew, if you will. I wrote more about it here:

    The Vagina Monologues

  2. You make some excellent points, Jennie, about trying to accomplish too much in one play.